President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has dismissed the petition initiated by the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), a civil society anti-corruption organization seeking to remove the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, from office.
The President, upon the recommendations of the Council of State, determined that the application by ASEPA was unmeritorious and unwarranted and was devoid of any basis to remove the Chief Justice.
This was contained in a statement issued and signed by him on Monday.
ASEPA had alleged in the July 13, 2021 petition seeking to invoke Article 146 of the Constitution for the removal of the Chief Justice that a private legal practitioner had accused the Chief Justice of demanding a bribe of USD5 million from his client to sway judgment in his favour in a case before the Supreme Court.
The Chief Justice, subsequently, denied the allegation and asked the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service to thoroughly investigate into the matter.
President Akufo-Addo, following the receipt of the petition, referred the matter to the Council of State per of Article 122 (3) and 144 (2) of the Constitution and in line with a Supreme Court ruling that obliges him to consult the Council to decide whether a petition for the removal of a Chief Justice or a Justice of the Supreme Court had a prima facie case for an impeachment process to begin.
The Council of State, consequently, submitted its report to the President on Friday, August 20, 2021.
The report concluded that ASEPA’s petition for the removal of the Chief Justice on the grounds of “stated misbehavior” is “frivolous and vexatious”, “does not meet the prima facie standard envisaged under Article 146 (6) of the Constitution and thus, ought to be dismissed in limine”.
Thus, President Akufo-Addo said in the statement that the petition was not anchored on any allegation made directly or emanating from the petitioner itself.
“The petitioner relies on allegations made by a certain lawyer, Mr Kwasi Afrifa, in his response to a complaint of misconduct made against the Chief Justice based on what he alleges another person (his former client), told him,” he said.
The statement said the petitioner did not make any allegation of bribery or any form of misconduct against the Chief Justice, adding that petition was conjectural and speculative, providing nothing of substance to assist in proceedings for the removal of the Chief Justice.
“It is correct to say that the petitioner does not possess any personal knowledge of any of the matter that the petitioner advances as the foundation of the petition,” it said
“The petitioner fails to meet the threshold of proffering sufficiently strong evidence in support of his allegation for the opposing side to be called to answer to it.
“In actual fact, the petitioner fails to provide any evidence at all, in support of the spurious allegations made against the Chief Justice. It does not attempt to substantiate any of the claims in any form.
“To entertain further proceedings on third hand and fourth hand hearsay, as the petition is replete with, will violate legally acceptable standards of fairness and weaken the efficacy of the top echelon of the Judiciary,” he said.
The allegation against the Chief Justice arose from the case titled Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI vrs Ghana Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (now Vodafone Ghana Limited) and the Lands Commission.
Mr Afrifa, a lawyer, in a response to a petition filed against him by his client, Nana Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta IV, alleged that his client told him the Chief Justice had demanded a USD 5 million bribe to purportedly influence his case before the Supreme Court.
Nana Kwesi Atta, however, denied making the allegation against the Chief Justice.
The facts are that Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, had a $16 million judgment against Ghana Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (now Vodafone Ghana Ltd.), from the High Court, Swedru.
This followed an admission by Lands Commission at the Swedru High Court that it had granted the disputed land to Vodafone Ghana Limited mistakenly, thinking it was state land duly acquired by Executive Instrument and compensation paid to Ogyeedom’s predecessor in title.
Vodafone appealed the judgment to the Court of Appeal, but their appeal was dismissed and the Company (Vodafone) was ordered by the Court to make a payment of $4 million as part payment of the judgment debt pending the outcome of its appeal.
Vodafone filed an appeal to the Supreme Court following its dissatisfaction with the outcome in the Court of Appeal.
Pending the appeal at the Supreme Court, Vodafone discovered documents, including signed receipts from the archives, indicating that the land had been duly acquired under Executive Instrument No. 86 (E.I. 86) and compensation fully paid in 1969 by the Government of Ghana for the acquisition of the land to one Nana Obranu Gura II, Ogyeedom’s predecessor in title.
Vodafone then applied for leave to adduce the fresh evidence in the Supreme Court to support its appeal.
The Company also filed an application before the Supreme Court for a stay of the execution of the remainder of the judgment pending the determination of its appeal.
Following the two applications, the President of the panel of five justices of the Supreme Court, before whom, the application for stay of execution of the payment of the rest of the judgment debt to Ogyeedom was placed, wrote a formal memo to the Chief Justice for the enhancement of the panel.
The Chief Justice then presided over an enhanced panel of seven justices who went on to grant an order for stay of execution of Ogyeedom’s entire judgment.
The panel also made a consequential order that Ogyeedom should refund into court, the part payment of the judgment debt of $4 million that he had already received from Vodafone.
The application for the adduction of fresh evidence was also granted in favour of Vodafone by the Court, composed differently but still presided over by the Chief Justice.
Ogyeedom also then brought an application before the Supreme Court, asking for leave to lead fresh evidence to contradict the new evidence that Vodafone had been granted leave to adduce to demonstrate that the signatures of Nana Obranu Gura II, his predecessor in title, on the compensation receipts had been forged.
In the light of these two applications, the President of the panel of five justices of the Supreme Court, before whom, the application for stay of execution of the payment of the rest of the judgment debt to Ogyeedom was placed, wrote a formal memo to the Chief Justice for the enhancement of the panel.
By a majority of four to one, the Court granted the application in favour of Ogyeedom, with the Chief Justice being the only one dissenting, insisting that it was wrong to allow Ogyeedom to remake his case.